All posts filed under: Adventure

Hiking from Darjeeling to Sikkim!

On one crazy adventure from Darjeeling to Sikkim, we ditched the Darjeeling to Sikkim train and Darjeeling to Sikkim bus, and hiked across the border through tea estates, forests and remote villages! We impulsively decided to venture into the remote north-eastern Himalayas of India. At an organic tea farm an hour’s ride from Darjeeling, sipped the finest hand-rolled tea. Drank the local thomba brewed from fermented millets on chilly nights. Got a first hand perspective on the separatist Gorkhaland movement. And reminisced with the hill folk about the times gone by. Then we hiked in the mountains, through dense forests, past charming hill villages, along tea estates that dotted the landscape, barefoot across the Rangeet River… to cross the border into Sikkim! In Photos: Hiking from Darjeeling to Sikkim The Darjeeling Sikkim hike began along the tea estates of Darjeeling Organized by our hosts at Tathgata Farm. Carpets of green stretched into the horizon, as far as the eyes could see. We followed tea pluckers as they started their day Plucking the finest tea in India with their nimble fingers. The Darjeeling to Sikkim …

7 Reasons Why Bohol is My Favorite Island in The Philippines.

Years after my brief tryst with the Philippines, I revisited the country in March, hoping to discover its pristine islands. I sampled city life in Manila, rowed into an underground river in Palawan, walked on the edge of Cebu’s tallest building, and went deep sea diving in Negros. But it was with the island of Bohol that I fell in love. This is why: 1) There is a pool table and hammock in every village house! I’ve witnessed laid-back island life in many places, but Bohol’s refreshingly relaxed vibe is different. You don’t need to go to a beach here to see people lazying on the sand with beers and music. Most houses on the island, whether by the farms, along the river, or in the hills, have pool tables and hammocks in their backyards. Driving along the island’s lush interiors, I saw locals swinging on hammocks outside their houses, and entire families (often the mothers leading the troupe) bantering over friendly games of pool. C’est la vie! 2) The Chocolate Hills are as fascinating as their name. Witnessing the Chocolate Hills of Bohol …

Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia coast, Aldinga beach

10 Unforgettable Moments in South Australia.

There are some trips that make you want to give the world a big hug. South Australia was that trip for me. On my long journey back to India two days ago, I couldn’t stop feeling overwhelmed by the pristine beauty of the things I had experienced, the warmth of the people I had met, the softness of the sands I had walked on, and the love that went into every glass of wine I had tasted. These are moments that will always make me nostalgic about South Australia: 1. Winery-hopping on a bicycle in Mclaren Vale. In the verdant wine country of Mclaren Vale, we pedaled our way along the trail of an old train track, amid vineyards that stretched into the horizon. The aroma of fresh grapes lured us into some of the oldest family-run wineries in these parts, for a taste of the finest Shiraz and Moscato wines. That warm afternoon felt like poetry to me. 2. Spotting kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, penguins, seals in the wild! I never imagined that one day, I would be …

In Photos: The Countryside of Northern Thailand.

There are very few places in the world that feel like home to me, and northern Thailand is one of them. I showed up there with a tired soul, on an impulsive trip that I hoped would rejuvenate me (Read: Going Back to The Places we Love). And what can I say? Thailand gave me the time, space and natural beauty to think, write, and appreciate the little joys of life again. I pen this post from a little gourmet cafe in Singapore, and these photos, taken with my Sony Cybershot camera, are to be my sunshine on dark and dull days in the year ahead. I hope they’ll make you yearn as much for the Thai countryside. *** 1. TEARING INTO THE POSTCARD THAT IS NORTHERN THAILAND  for such surreal views of the hills, river, paddies, and sunsets that are now etched in my mind forever. *** 2. SAMPLING HOME-COOKED VEGETARIAN THAI FOOD  at Ban Lom Jen Homestay – Penang Curry and steamed rice. Delicious! *** 3. MARVELING AT THE WHITE TEMPLE  of Chiang …

Rajasthan villages

Offbeat Rajasthan: 10 Awe-inspiring Experiences.

Looking for offbeat places in Rajasthan? From tribal ceremonies to ancient hunting lodges, behold some truly incredible experiences. On a mustard farm deep in the interiors of Rajasthan’s Pali district, Pannibai pulls out weeds in the hot afternoon sun. A few meters away, next to a makeshift hut of wood and twigs, her husband and son cook lunch on a small fire. The family has been here almost 6 months. Come March, when the harvest is done, they’ll take their share of the crop and move. To another village, and another makeshift house. It’s the only way of life I know, she tells me. The real nomad, of the Rabari (gypsy) community of Rajasthan. The villages of Rajasthan are home to hundreds of years of fascinating traditions, many of which will get wiped away with the older generations. Visit these truly offbeat places in Rajasthan and partake of these awe-inspiring travel experiences while you still can: Witness a tribal prayer ceremony Nana Village, Pali District On a late winter night, I found myself sitting in the …

Island Legends From Seychelles.

I often dream of a time when little of the world had been discovered. No maps, no connectivity; travel was only for people with a heart for real adventure. People set sail without knowing their destination. One day, a lucky bunch of them would end up at a group of pristine, uninhabited islands in the Indian Ocean and decide to stay. These are their legends. This is a glimpse of Seychelles beyond the beaches. 1. The World’s Most Expensive Coconut. A Coco De Mer costs 6000 Seychelles rupees (or 30,000 Indian rupees) and you can’t even eat it. Arabic sailors often sailed to these parts looking for goods they could sell back home. They landed on Praslin (pronounced Pra-lay), the second biggest of the Seychelles’ islands, and chanced upon Coco De Mer. The nut of this palm tree resembles the shape of a woman’s butts or lungs or other parts, depending on your imagination. The nut has no functional value, but became a sought after ornament, selling at the same price as spices in those days; …

spotted owlet, Kanha wildlife, Kanha national park

Kanha National Park: Stories From The Wild in Madhya Pradesh.

Beyond the tiger chase, these stories from Kanha National Park / Kanha Tiger Reserve triggered my love for the forests of Madhya Pradesh. There is a whole world out there, in the dense Sal forests of Kanha National Park. A world far removed from you and me. Fascinating stories dwell here just like in the human world. Wildlife and nature peacefully co-exist, and mankind meddles. For better and for worse. These snippets attempt to look beyond what we witness on jungle safaris, and try to capture the essence of life in the wild: I will follow you into the dark When we spot a pair of jackals run off into the fields of Kanha Tiger Reserve, our naturalist can’t help but speak of their love. Jackals lead monogamous lives, and once they find a mate, it’s till death do them apart. In a jungle like Kanha, with predators as fierce as the tiger and as illusive as the leopard, life is tough. Yet if a mate dies, the survivor refuses to take on another mate, …

kanha national park, Kanha madhya pradesh

Wildlife Tourism: Are We Saving The Tiger?

Our jeep comes to a screeching halt. In the distance, two low-lying eyes gaze upon us with a look so cunning, I still can’t get it out of my head. Our naturalist raises his binoculars, and confirms what we suspect. A leopard. It gently raises its spotted body, gives us a defiant last look, and disappears in the bushes. We are left gaping at the empty path, with goosebumps. When Pugdundee Safaris first invited me on a week-long wildlife trip in Madhya Pradesh, I must admit I was a bit apprehensive. My past trips to national parks in Corbett and Sri Lanka had left me with the impression that wildlife tourism, jeep safaris in particular, are terrible for wild animals. Paved roads in the middle of the forest, racing jeeps, the constant pressure from people to see a tiger; it clearly seemed destructive of their natural habitat. That impression is gradually changing, and not because of the bone-chilling encounter with a leopard. Bejoy, the naturalist at Ken River Lodge, linked the argument to economics; it makes …

Panna National Park Near Khajuraho: India’s Most Beautiful Forest?

On why I fell in love with Panna National Park – often called Khajuraho National Park due to its proximity to the Khajuraho temples in Madhya Pradesh. Old forests of teak and acacia lay bathed in the warm glow of the morning sun. We drove along the vast expanse of the Ken River strewn with little islands, climbed up a plateau dotted with colorful igneous rocks, crossed bubbling streams and grasslands in shades of autumn, and arrived at the most picturesque sight – a 200 meter high gorge, with two majestic waterfalls, surrounded by dense greenery, and a stream winding in the valley below. Sitting on the rocks, we had tea and biscuits while watching vultures fly around the steep gorge! Panna Tiger Reserve (aka Khajuraho National Park) has broken my association of wildlife parks with wildlife alone. I hope these pictures, taken with my Sony Cybershot, will do the same for you! FOREST RIVER ISLANDS IN PANNA NATIONAL PARK  which look particularly lush just when the park opens on October 15th, after the monsoon …

Sri Lanka villages, Sri Lanka ecotourism, Sri Lanka secrets

Galkadawala: Sri Lanka’s Best Kept Secret.

I take off my shoes, slip on a sarong, and carefully tip toe into the luke warm water. The village ladies, all clad in colorful sarongs, extend their hands so I don’t get entangled in the weeds and fall. Maulie, our host in Galkadawala, introduces me as “India”; the ladies giggle and say something friendly in Singhala. I wade into the lake with their help, and when my feet no longer touch the soft bed, I start to swim. Maulie points to a tree in the distance, where she spotted one of the lake’s resident crocodiles a few days ago. A soft chill runs through my spine, as brahminy kites appear in the clear blue sky above. Shivya NathWelcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes in the transformative power of travel.